My eyes were glued onto that letter. I read it over and over expecting new information every time that I read it. How is it possible that Luke, my boyfriend’s driver, was my father? He couldn’t be. My real father’s name was Ryan Carter and he has been incarcerated since I was a toddler. I grew up asking about him and my mother always told me the same thing, he was a nice man when they were teens, but he made poor choices. Ava and I found out later through the help of Google that my father was incarcerated for multiple counts of robbery and assault. I was ten when I found out and I never asked about him again.
My brain began to throb from all the information. I had almost forgotten that I was being threatened by a King and Queen. I looked up and saw a glimpse of sympathy from Queen Catherine that quickly vanished when her husband spoke, “So I take it that we finally understand each other?” He said taking my file away and tucking it back into the briefcase. I slid the letter into the pocket of my jacket.
I nodded, “I will leave him alone,” I said. That is until I find another way, I thought.
I did not even get the change to go through half of my file, yet I was fully aware that they would use my mother against me. That is all they needed because they knew I would do anything for her. They threatened to get her fired and I could never let that happen. My mom was the best nurse and she studied so hard to become one. I would not risk it for a guy, even if it was someone I was in love with.
I could still hear Phoenix pounding on the door. I wondered if he heard our conversation and the reason why I had to stay away from him.
The King stood up and went towards the bedroom. He whispered something to the guard that stood in front and suddenly I was being escorted out of the apartment. I noticed the King slipping through Phoenix’s bedroom door before I was outside of the apartment completely. The guard followed me down the stairs where my mom and Luke were waiting. My mom ran and took me into her arms. I could see over her shoulder that the guard was letting Luke know that he was fired. His face was full of despair and I wondered if it was right to bring forth the revelations that I now knew. It was clear from the letter that Luke did not want me and deep down it really hurt, but I still needed answers. I needed to hear him say why he didn’t want me.
The guard went back upstairs to the apartment and Luke was left standing there looking lost. My mother released me and I told her I would tell her everything back home. She nodded and got back into the car, quite oblivious to Luke’s state.
I walked over to Luke, “You’re fired?”
He looked at me, surprised that I knew, “Yes. What happened? What did they tell you?”
“I’ll tell you once you drive us back. I can’t talk about it here in case they are still watching.”
He nodded and we both got into the car. We drove in silence but I could feel Luke’s eyes watching me through the rearview mirror. My hand remained in the pocket of my jacket, holding onto the letter that changed my fate. I wondered what I was going to say. I wondered how my mom could sit in this car and not be pissed off at the person who left her to be a teen mom by herself. My blood boiling just thinking about how much that letter hurt my mother.
Once we got back to the house, I took a seat in the living room. The paranoia of the guard watching me was now gone and I felt like I could now show them the letter. My mom took the seat next to me on the couch and Luke took a seat in one of our single chairs in the living room.
“So are you going to tell us what they said Princess?” My mother asked.
I pulled out the letter out of my jacket and handed it to my mother. She gasped, knowing right away what the letter entailed. It confirmed any doubts that I had about the letter being fake.
“They had a whole file on me. This letter was in the file,” I quietly said. Luke stood up and held out his hand for the letter. My mom handed him the letter. Luke’s face did not automatically recognize the letter, but I assumed it was because he was trained to show no emotion. However, as he began to read the letter, he looked confused and angry.
“What the hell is this?” He said holding up the letter and looking between my mom and I.
“Your father wrote me that letter, Luke. How do you not remember?” My mother asked. She began rubbing my back, trying to soothe me.
“I never knew you were pregnant!” Luke shouted. My mother and I froze.
“What do you mean you didn’t know? I sent you a letter,” She said. She got up and headed towards her bedroom. She came back with a beige colored envelope that was torn up along with old stamps. She handed the letter to Luke and he began scanning the letter.
“I didn’t receive this letter, Natalie. I swear it,” He said. I took the letter from him and saw that the envelope was addressed to a home in Calida, Luke’s home. I opened the letter and my mom’s handwriting read back to me:
My Dear Luke,
My mother is back in the hospital. The doctors said that she might not have much time left. We are preparing for the worst. My aunt Marie is here too. She promised my mother that she would take care of me until I turn eighteen. She is a kind woman and I trust her. Two weeks ago, I began throwing up. I thought it was due to stress, but it became more constant. I told my aunt Marie and I told her about us. I told her about what we did at the dance. She bought me a pregnancy test and it came back positive. I am so scared, Luke. I haven’t even finished school and you are back in Calida. Please tell me what to do. I will come to Calida if I have too. I just want us to be together. Please write back soon.
I felt tears fill my eyes as I finished the letter. Sometimes as teens we forget that our parents had whole lives before we came along. My mom was scared when I came along, she was alone. Luke was not there and my grandma died not so long after the date of the letter.
“Your father returned my letter back along with the one that Mila has,” My mother explained.
“I swear to you Nat that I never saw that letter. I was getting ready to apply for my visa to come here when my father told me that you had found someone else. After that, I finished my application to work at the palace instead. I never knew about you Mila,” He said. I looked at him and saw tears fill his eyes. I believed him.
“So it looks like Luke’s dad didn’t want you guys together, but why didn’t you tell me, mom? When were you going to tell me that the man I thought was my father is not? When he got out of jail? Or maybe the day my future children are all grown up and I’m married? How long did you think you could hide this from me?” My voice sounded a little harsh but I was tired of holding in my feelings.
“I didn’t want you to get hurt, Mila. Listen to the whole story please,” My mother exhaled and sounded exasperated.
“I’m listening,” I kicked off my shoes and crossed my legs on the couch on while my mom and Luke took their seats.
My mom looked at Luke and he nodded, “Luke and I met through a pen-pal program that our school had opened my freshman year of high school. We would send letters back and forth all that year and eventually, we wanted to see each other. We saved up money to visit each other during the summers between school years, telling our parents that it was all a part of a student exchange program. We quickly realized that we wanted to pursue a romantic relationship and were sexually active.”
“Ok gross, you can leave that information out please,” I interjected.
“Luke was older by a year so he graduated before me. He could visit me throughout the school year now and he came to the dance with me. I found out about you a couple of weeks after once Luke had gone back and sent that letter. I waited three weeks before I got his father’s response. I was heartbroken. We lost all contact and I decided throwing myself into another relationship would help me get over Luke. That relationship was with Ryan, the man you thought was your dad. Ryan had already graduated and was working full-time here in Brownsville. We were together for about a month when I told him I was pregnant. I knew you were Luke’s and so did Ryan but Ryan said we could do it together, that he would love you like his own,” My mother choked on some tears.
“During my whole pregnancy, Ryan was the most excited. He would buy diapers and outfits for you while you were still in my tummy. Then, you were born and something changed. Ryan was so angry all the time and resorted to bad choices. Every day he got worse and eventually, the consequences caught up with him. He was in and out jail and finally I decided to leave when you turned two. I found out soon after that he went to prison. In my head, I thought it would be better to tell you that your father was in prison for bad choices rather than having a father that did not want you,” My mother finished. I did not realize that there was also tears falling down my cheeks. I hugged her and we stayed embraced until Luke began to speak.
“I am so sorry that you had to go through that Nat. I knew that my father was not a big fan of yours, but I did not think that he would be capable of something like this. Mila, I promise that if I knew about you I would have been there for you. I loved your mother so much. I would have done anything for her,” Luke said softly. I untangled from my mother’s embrace and walked over to Luke. I gave him a hug which caught him off guard. After a few moments, he hugged me back. I realized that even though I had just met this man, I had to at least try to get to know him. I owed that to everyone in this room, including myself.
When I broke away, I continued to tell them about my confrontation with the King and Queen. I told them about how they threatened me, my mom, Luke, and how much power they had to make anything happen.
“So you lost your job because of me Luke. I’m sorry,” I finished looking back at him.
“Don’t be. I only stuck around because of Phoenix. He is different than his father. Prince Phoenix will be a just ruler. Calida desperately needs that. I hoped that if I stuck around, I could possibly help keep Phoenix that way, but his father has other plans.”
“Then, you have to be careful Mila. Not for my sake, but for yours and for Phoenix. We all care about him but we do not know what his father is capable of. In the meantime, Luke will stay here in our guest room until we figure something out.” My mom added. Before Luke could protest about invading our space, I reminded him that we were already seventeen years behind schedule. He gave me a soft chuckle at that comment.
My mom reminded me that it was very late and a school night so she sent me off to bed. I checked my phone as I brushed my teeth, expecting a text from Phoenix but there was nothing. I realized that I could only help him by telling the truth. I ran and pulled the laptop out of my backpack in my bedroom. I went back and fixed a few errors in the article about Phoenix’s prearranged marriage and the pact that he made with his parents, however, I included the events of today. I wrote about how I was threatened but that I would not stay quiet. I was tired of being scared.
I clicked “submit” and it was posted online.
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